Italy, France


An Italian suburb somewhere between metropolis and wild nature: Marcello, a small and gentle dog groomer, finds himself involved in a dangerous relationship of subjugation with Simone, a former violent boxer who terrorises the entire neighborhood. In an effort to re-affirm his dignity, Marcello will submit to an unexpected act of vengeance.

Director's Statement

In the grips of an unstoppable and frightening coke-induced state of elation, Lucio yells: “What are we?” “Animals!”. DOGMAN is not only the name of a pet grooming shop but also the tragic harbinger of a transformation, of the metamorphosis of our main character from man to animal. The scene I consider central to the whole movie is that in which Lucio, exasperated by Simoncino’s bullying and arrogance, starts to sadistically torture him inside his personal amphitheater of crated dogs who powerlessly witness his fury.

In a suburban area where justice is practically absent, where too often the rule of the strong prevails, a world where the only principles are honor and money, where drugs and violence are the only possibility of escapism or of distancing oneself from alienation and isolation, in this kind of world, is mankind truly an evil animal or just a victim of circumstances? Based on a true story, DOGMAN will not be an exact recollection of the case that took place 30 years ago and of which nobody will ever know the truth. The movie’s intent is to dwell deep into universal issues and human dilemmas, which are hidden inside the plot.

Lucio is a simple and kind man who is used to life in a violent world, in which survival depends on not relying on anyone, and it’s this situation that will trigger his bestiality and primitive instincts and drive him to commit a brutal homicide while turning into a ferocious animal on a rampage.

In the Bible there’s this warning: “Fear the wrath of the Righteous”. And this rage, triggered by Simoncino’s harassment and abuse, unbridles the resentments that Lucio accumulated over the years because of a sense of inadequacy and helplessness. Like the protagonist of Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground, Lucio’s anxieties originate from the feeling of being a “half-man”. Incapable of being an honest and respectable man but can’t bring himself to being a criminal, he fosters repressed resentments towards society as a whole. What he craves most from his titanic and godly endeavor - to the extent that, in the final scene, he auto-inflicts on himself his own Calvary proclaiming himself the Savior of the Neighborhood - is redemption and recognition, because Lucio seeks recognition for his identity as a human being. And this is the reason why, from the very start, his actions are determined by a fatal attraction to the world of crime. Lucio leads a double life because of the lure of crime, he takes pleasure in evil but his survival instinct and the love for his daughter are a catalyst for redemption through an act of folly. The Dogman craves a catharsis and unleashes it through an atrocious offensive against his tormentor in front of the Greek Tragedy chorus of his dogs. Lucio’s end might justify his means, but actually his plan makes him more evil than Simoncino. Lucio’s distorted view makes him believe that through a bloody sacrifice carried out in a drug-induced state he’ll be able to wash away the neighborhood’s blood and with this heroic act free himself of the beast. The uniqueness of this story lies in the fact that Lucio’s Demon is inside of him: nowadays Goliah and Polyphemus are present in David and Ulysses, and they’re inside our souls which have become jaded to the aggressions, injustices, barbaric events and idealization of violence. Lucio realizes this as he looks at his deformed face in the mirror. Like a savage Mr. Hyde slowly taking over a clueless Dr. Jekyll, our world is headed towards a realm of cruelty and atrociousness from which there’s no way back.

The union and the numbers of the weak could put an end to the oppression of the strong, but by stubbornly wanting to continue to follow the street-smart logic of the Law of Retaliation, Lucio decides to engage in a personal battle against the boxer-junkie. That’s why I’d rather not identify Dogman with a simple revenge story but with a Western, by proposing its clichés in a modern key (the neighborhood’s main road, the riotous anarchy, the saloon, the final duel…).

Lucio and Simoncino are two antiheroes on an epic stage on which what is said and thought about a man is more important than what he actually is, or, as John Ford in Liberty Valance said: “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

To be able to offer all these facets of the human soul that simmer beneath the surface of this story, I intend to use an ambiguous and double style that can effortlessly move from comedy to drama by having the plot take place in the outskirts of Rome. This will capture the audience’s interest but at the same time we won’t fall into the overused and recurrent stereotypes and scenarios of recent cinematography.

Director's Biography

Matteo Garrone (born 15 October 1968) is an Italian filmmaker. Born in Rome, the son of a theatre critic, Nico Garrone and a photographer, in 1996 Garrone won the Sacher d'Oro, an award sponsored by Nanni Moretti, with the short film SILHOUETTE, that became one of the three episodes that are on his first long film TERRA DI MEZZO in 1997. He won Best Director at the European Film Awards and at the David di Donatello Awards for GOMORRAH. His film REALITY competed in competition at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival and won the Grand Prix. TALE OF TALES was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival and in 2018, for his film DOGMAN, Marcello Fonte won the Best actor award at the Cannes Film Festival.

2018 – DOGMAN
2012 – REALITY
1998 – GUESTS

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Matteo Garrone

Written by: Matteo Garrone, Ugo Chiti, Massimo Gaudioso

Produced by: Matteo Garrone, Jean Labadie, Jeremy Thomas, Paolo Del Brocco

Cinematography: Nicolaj Brüel

Editing: Marco Spoletini

Production Design: Dimitri Capuani

Costume Design: Massimo Cantini Parrini

Make-Up & Hair: Lorenzo Tamburini, Dalia Colli, Daniela Tartari

Sound Design: Mirko Perri

Visual Effects: Rodolfo Migliari

Cast: Marcello Fonte (Marcello), Edoardo Pesce (Simoncino)

Nominations and Awards

  • European Make-Up & Hair Artist 2018
  • European Costume Designer 2018
  • European Actor 2018
  • European Screenwriter 2018
  • European Director 2018
  • European Film 2018
  • People's Choice Award 2019
  • Feature Film Selection 2018